Best ESG data provider for investors - GRESB (Joint winner)

Channels: Green Bonds

Companies: GRESB

People: Rick Walters

Amsterdam-based GRESB – which describes itself as the leading environmental, social and governance (ESG) benchmark for real estate and infrastructure investments – was launched in 2009 by a group of large pension funds.

Its success in being named joint Best ESG Data Provider for Investors, coincides with the announcement that more than 100 institutional investors now use GRESB data and tools, including many of the world's largest pensions funds, insurance companies and sovereign wealth funds.

Rick WaltersGRESB says a focus on materiality has helped its infrastructure and real estate assessments to grow significantly.

The Sustainable Investment Awards judges were impressed by the company's commitment to ESG data quality, labelling GRESB's approach "technically robust".

"For infrastructure, the key is we've gone down to the asset level – we're following what has been successful in real estate to ensure that the data we request is material and relevant. We have built in materiality-based scoring that focuses on measuring what is most material for any particular asset.

"For instance, air pollution is not relevant to a solar farm, so in this case we don't ask about it, which reduces the reporting burden and so companies know all the data we ask for is relevant," said Rick Walters, infrastructure director at GRESB.

This is evidenced by GRESB's 75% growth in infrastructure asset assessments in 2018, while its real estate assessments increased by 6.2% to a portfolio of 903, worth $3.5 trillion in gross asset value.

ESG data has become a hot topic in recent years and GRESB says it is responding by growing its offering. "The era of big data is here. We're working with a variety of partners to take our data, anonymise it, and overlay it with other data to develop new insights that help the whole industry," said Walters.